Chocolate is a sacred product. Very few people can actually say that they don’t like chocolate. But the sad part is that a big part of the western world hasn’t seen where it comes from or how it’s made. The truth is, Ghana is the second biggest cocoa producer in the world while countries like Switzerland (who only produce approximately 1% of the world’s cocoa harvest), are renowned for their chocolate.
Ghana is the second-biggest cocoa producer, after Ivory Coast who is THE biggest cocoa producer in the world. Currently, Ghana is responsible for about 45% of the world’s cocoa, so could you imagine what would happen if Ghana refused to ship the raw material to Switzerland? It’s time to find out.
Why Ghana will no longer sell cocoa to Switzerland
In Ghana, cocoa is one of the main driving forces behind its GDP. Unfortunately, as Nana Akufo-Addo stated, the country is locked in a colonial-style relationship with the world’s chocolate manufactures in which it provides raw materials only to import finished goods.
Alongside Ivory Coast, both countries have found it very hard to obtain a greater share of profits from an industry that keeps most of the added value in the western markets it serves. Historically they have both been Switzerland’s go-to supplier, but that is changing.
Last year, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo became the first African leader to be invited in about 60 years on a state visit to Switzerland. During his visit he left the Swiss astonished because he announced that he will soon end the process of selling raw materials to trade partners for onward value additions.
Ghana no longer wants to be dependent on the production and export of raw materials but rather aims to use its own beans to make its own chocolate.
“There can be no future prosperity if we continue to maintain economic structures that are dependent on the production and export of raw materials”, was one of the things the president stated during his visit.
Akufo-Addo tied in the movement towards value addition to Ghana’s national pride as well as poverty alleviation. “Producing bars at home, rather than exporting raw cocoa, is one way to break neocolonial trading patterns”.
So how can this decision aid in poverty alleviation?
Swiss chocolate manufacturers aren’t the only one to blame, American chocolate manufacturers also play a role in this.
The Living Income (LID) is a bold new move by both Ghana and Ivory Coast governments to make a fundamental change to the structure of global markets to try to ensure rural producers receive a living income. It gives cocoa frames a bonus of $400 per tonne in addition to the market price.
Despite implementing what seems like a more fair and positive move, it was still found in a statement by The Coffee Cocoa Council (CCC) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) that two of the world’s top chocolate sellers (Hershey’s and Mars) were not paying the living income differential (LID).
Problems to solve: child labour and deforestation
Not only that but as long ago as 2001, chocolate makers, including brands such as Mars, Nestle and Hershey, signed an agreement to eliminate child labor from their supply chains in Ghana and Ivory Coast where the problem is most acute.
Yet in 2015 it was found out by the U.S Labor Department that the number of children working on cocoa farms – some carrying out dangerous tasks such as spraying pesticide, lugging heavy sacks or wielding machetes – had actually gone up, to 2.1 million.
Not only child employment is a big problem but also deforestation. Some extend their farms by cutting down forests to make ends meet.
Breaking neo colonial trading patterns
Looking at it from a more global perspective, of the $130bn global chocolate industry, less than $2bn goes to Ghana. Farmers get at most 7% of the chocolate value chain. Those who make, sell and market chocolate grab more than 80%.
In a nutshell, Nana Akufo-Addo’s visit has definitely raised many concerns and worries. The world, and not just Switzerland, will experience a massive shortage since (as we mentioned earlier on) Ghana is responsible for about 50% – 45% of the world’s cocoa.
It is great, however, to already see an increase in local chocolate Ghanaian brands coming to life and marketing chocolate MADE IN GHANA, BY GHANA, but President Akufo-Addo’s government still needs to do a lot of work to overcome production issues. We would like to share a list of local Ghanaian chocolate brands you should definitely try whilst in Ghana (and maybe why not, take back home!).
It is the moment to protect farmers and make sure they can survive on their income. Let’s hope that Ghana’s move into investing into infrastructure to process chocolate by themselves will serve as an example to other African countries to not have to rely on the same old exploitative parties to lead the African continent into prosperous positions.
If Ghana really starts to invest into its own people and its own communities (as they have claimed) they can really come on top!